I do recirculating no sparge brewing with my cooler. I have a braid, but I use a tee and run the braid around the cooler and to the tee on each side.
I have some stiff copper wire coiled inside the braid to keep it from compressing from the weight of the grain. So far that's been good to me, even with 30 lbs of grain in my cooler.
I have never used a manifold so I'll be interested to hear the opinions. I love no sparge brewing, though. Beers just keep getting better. Right now I see no reason to change.
On Tap: Belgian Barrel Aged Barleywine, Da Yooper's Oatmeal Stout, Breakfast Stout, Hop Your Face Off IIPA, Catcher in the Rye Saison, "Wino-head" Nelsin Sauvin Gumballhead.
Bourbon Barrel Duchesse De Bourgnone
Fermenting English Mild
on Deck: Lager?